"God makes a home for the lonely..." Psalm 68:6A
To this day and forever God has been and always will be an extraordinary guardian of the defenseless. Though the world around us pridefully says, "God helps those who help themselves," the reality is just the opposite. God helps those who can't help themselves. Those that find themselves utterly destitute of confidence in their own abilities to deliver themselves from their calamity, pain, helplessness or hopelessness, and are ship-wrecked on His grace, cast-a-ways on His mercy; find a place of refuge with the Lord (Romans 5:8-10). He comes to the rescue to those who are void of their own strength and are completely bankrupt of their own competence to find their rest and assurance only in Him. "Blessed are the poor in spirit" Jesus said. (Matthew 5:3) Paul understood what it meant to be utterly abandoned to God when he says, "we worship in the Spirit of God, glory in Christ Jesus and place no confidence in the flesh." (Philippians 3:3 emphasis added) This is not only necessary for salvation but essential for our daily sanctification.
Gideon: God's Dependent General
God will not share His glory with another (Isaiah 42:8). He delights in placing us in circumstances where He alone receives the glory for our rescue and deliverance. Remember Gideon when fighting in battle against an army of Midianites greater than 130,000 strong? (Judges 7) Gideon's forces were outnumbered by a margin of better than 4 to 1 and God said his armies were too many for victory. Schwarzkopf or Powell would have been discharged of duty for such advice in the heat of battle. But God's ways are not our ways… He whittled Gideon's army from 32,000 down to 300. For what purpose - "lest Israel claim glory for itself against Me, saying 'My own hand has saved me.'" (Judges 7:2a) He ultimately blessed Gideon with victory, but only after Gideon was broken, outnumbered, and armed with the unconventional weaponry of a pitcher, a lantern, and a trumpet. This was for two purposes: 1. that his confidence remained solely in the Lord for victory; and 2., that the Lord would clearly receive all of the glory.
The Rock That Is Higher Than I
David also came to this cognition that he did not have the strength nor the power to rescue himself! Hear the cry of his sequestered heart in Psalm 61:2, "When my heart is overwhelmed; lead me to the rock that is higher than I." Through David, you are given a glimpse into the forlorn heart of the man after God's own heart! David wrote Psalm 61 after Absalom's rebellion (2 Samuel 13-19). Absalom, who was his son, had "stolen the hearts of Israel from the King" and had murdered his own brother Amnon. He committed treason and ultimately himself was murdered by David's nephew Joab who ignored the king's orders to "deal gently with his son." When his heart was overwhelmed he knew where to turn to be apprehended by the One who was greater than his grief. He turned to Jehovah God - the rock that was higher than himself.
Charles Spurgeon, that powerful British pastor and theologian of the late 19th century, when reflecting on this verse comments:
"When the huge waves of trouble wash over me, and I am completely submerged, not only as to my head, but also my heart. It is hard to pray when the very heart is drowning, yet gracious men plead best at such times. Tribulation brings us to God, and brings God to us. Faith's greatest triumph's are achieved in her heaviest trials. It is all over with me, affliction is all over me; it encompasses me as a cloud, it swallows me up like a sea, it shuts me in with thick darkness, yet God is near, near enough to hear my voice, and I will call him. …our inmost faith has its quiet heart-whispers to the Lord as to One who is assuredly our very present help."
Safe Harbor for the Weary Traveler
God provided a place of harborage for David. The name of the Lord is a strong tower that we can run to and be safe (Proverbs 18:10). Do you know Him as your Lord and Savior? Then take heart dear child of God, for in Him you are safe (Jude 1); in Him you are secure (Romans 5:1-10); in Him you are saved (Ephesians 1:4-14); in Him you are forgiven (Hebrews 10:10-12); and in Him, even when you are weak you are strong - for His grace is sufficient for you (2 Corinthians 12:10).
Noah: God's Journeyman
Noah stood alone with God for over 100 years amidst the ridicule and scorn of men (Genesis 6-8); Daniel stood alone with God against the dictates of king Darius for praying to the one true God (Daniel 6); Jeremiah spent many days alone in a pit waiting to die for being faithful to God (Jeremiah 38:6-13); Jesus was alone in the garden and finally at the cross for our redemption (Luke 22:39-23:49); Paul in his last days on earth before Nero took his life was thoroughly disregarded by men but the Lord stood with him (2 Timothy 4:16-17); and John was exiled to the island called Patmos as he penned that great apocalyptic book of Revelation - he was alone with God (Revelation 1:9). We can adjoin David and Gideon to this list along with Moses, Abraham, Amos and the countless names known and unknown from that great Hall of Faith chapter in Hebrews eleven.
But here is the hard lesson that we must learn: to be much for God publicly; we must be much with God privately.
Mercy in the Wilderness
The Lord uses times of deep sorrow and trial to make us, yes, make us run to Him and Him alone. There is mercy in the wilderness; and the wilderness is the merciful thing. God uses those wasteland experiences to conform us to Himself. "All things work together for good to those that love God and are called according to His purpose" not because at the end of the day everything is nice and neatly problem free. NO! But because "we are predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son!" (Romans 8:28-29)
We are servants with scars.
Though all may forsake you there is One who will never leave nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5); who will love you to the uttermost (John 13:1); who will stick closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24); who knows every one of our needs (Matthew 6:25-34); and will be attentive to the prayers of His children (1 John 5:14-15). If you ask Him for bread He surely will not give you a stone (Matthew 7:7-11).
He will lead you to the rock that is higher than you. Like David the Lord will raise you high above the tempest - to the rock that is higher than your storm; higher than your loneliness. Praise be to God David found a place of sanctuary and shelter in God Himself and you may as well if you place your faith and in trust in Christ alone!
God's Love Is Deeper Still
Corrie Tenboom in the deprecating loneliness of her prison barracks in a concentration camp during World War II penned these words of hope and courage, "there is no pit so deep where God's love is not deeper still." We know and savor the heights of His love beloved; but do we know and cherish the authenticity of the depths of His love? Loneliness, in that spirit, can then be seen as a gift; for it forces us to our knees in sweet communion with our heavenly Father. Shut the door of your prayer closet and thank the Lord that to be alone with God is to never be alone.
The Crucible of Grace
The great blind hymn writer, Fanny Crosby, sums up the full assurance that a true child of God can have even in times of despair:
"Blessed assurance Jesus is mine, Oh what a foretaste of glory divine. Perfect submission all is at rest, I am my Savior am happy and blessed. This is my story this my song, Praising my Savior all the day long."
Sanctuary and Shelter in the Savior
What sweet consolation that God has made a home for the lonely! Praise the Lord we have a place of sanctuary and shelter in our faithful High Priest who knows our weaknesses and is able to come to the aid of His own (Hebrews 2:17-18). Has your heart been overwhelmed today? Do you feel abandoned, shunned by those closest to you? Has the covenant of saints been silent to your cries and cares? Do you ever cry out to the Lord as the Psalmist did, "Turn Yourself to me, and have mercy on me, for I am lonely and afflicted. The troubles of my heart have enlarged; bring me out of my distresses." (Psalm 25:16-17)
Even the most perfect of churches, loving of families and nurturing of friendships will fall short at some point in failing to uphold a lonely heart that is overwhelmed. It is good for us to go through times of loneliness to learn that Jesus Christ is completely sufficient for every need; every desire; every longing and craving of the heart; every trouble that could wage war against our soul; every emergency and every fear. (2 Corinthians 3:5; Colossians 1:15-20) When the darkest hour of the night arrives we may expect the dawn; when the sea is at its lowest ebb the tide will surely turn. When our heart is enlarged with trouble we may surely expect His deliverance.
Is Eleanor Rigby in Your Church?
The songwriting team of Lennon/McCartney have given us one of the great profound lyrics describing one who is tragically lonely and forgotten - a Lazarus of this world named Eleanor Rigby.
died in the church and was buried along with her name,
wiping [her death] from his hands as walked from her grave,
no one was saved.
All the lonely people where do they all come from?
All the lonely people, where do they all belong?"
God has made a home for the lonely beloved. Not only in the precious arms of the Caring Shepherd, but also in the family of God, the body of Christ, His church. The Apostle Paul exhorts us that when one part of the body hurts we all hurt (1 Corinthians 12:26). This is the intimate fellowship that the community of believers should enjoy to the fullest.
Sadly, this is the adverse response that Eleanor Rigby fell victim to. The church should never allow people to drift in and out carelessly. Pastors are called “the episkopos” – overseers; and it means to look intently into the needs of the flock of God (1 Timothy 3:1). Thank the Lord for faithful pastors/elders that are caring for the hurting within the church (1 Peter 5:1-4). Thank the Lord when a church comes to the assistance of another and bears their burdens for a season. Bless the Lord for the Aarons and Urs that will hold up the arms of a weary Moses (Exodus 17:10-12).
You are Never Alone When You're Alone with the Lord
As a Christian, you are never ever totally alone (Romans 8:35-39). God is with you. This is the joy of Christmas, Emanuel - God with us (Matthew 1:23). He is with you. His Holy Spirit is with you (Ephesians 1:13-14). And not only with you but He lives in you! "Christ in you the hope of glory" (Colossians 1:27) His church is with you. Find refuge this day in the pages of His comforting word (Psalm 119:24).
Run to Him and thank Him that He is Sovereign and Lord of your loneliness. Find comfort in the reality that you walk with other brothers and sisters in the great company of believers. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God." (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). Give your life away to the needs of others and discover God's grace to you in the process (Philippians 2:1-4).
And not only earthly consolation but He is preparing for us a mansion (John 14:1-4), a heavenly home, where there is no more tears, suffering, sorrow, loneliness, sin, sickness or disappointment (Revelation 21:3-4). Where we will worship Him forever with the entire hosts of heaven! What a wonderful privilege to be numbered among the family of the Firstborn! (Revelation 4:1-11). Be not be consumed today with self pity or content to gaze inward and dwell on your lonely state. Do not rest there. Do not make your home there.
Look upward for your help draweth nigh - for God has truly made a home for the lonely!
It has been edited and updated